Several months ago a good friend passed along the book Quiet by Susan Cain, and like so many of my books, it made its way to the stacks, and then more stacks were stacked upon that stack, and then a year passes. But I just finished reading this amazing book a few days ago and I couldn’t recommend it more. Informative. Well-written. A complete delight. And strangely enough, affirming. Several insights from Susan Cain . . .
- At a certain point in American culture, we moved from a “character / depth” driven style of leadership to a “personality / extroverted” style of leadership, and in many ways, we’re still suffering from this shift. I would simply point out that there was a time in our culture when a person first did something of great accomplishment, and then became famous. Now a person becomes famous without any accompanying accomplishment.
- Being an introvert is not a social disorder nor is it a pathological problem. Introversion is simply an orientation toward life. And while it’s true that extroverts are often perceived to be smarter and more capable, this is just factually wrong. The fact that some people enjoy (and need) copious amounts of quiet time for reflection is not a problem; it is a very good thing.
- Unfortunately, “value” in our culture is often equated with being “busy.” Being busy is the holy grail of extroversion. Yet being busy is not necessarily the highest good. Introverted activities are just as valuable as extroverted activities, and in some cases, carry even more value.
- While it’s true that education has bought into the business of model of learning in groups, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with this, there are some people who learn better working alone. Collaboration is great, but individual genius and creativity is also great, which is why so many of the great advancements in our society have come from a solitary person.
- Balance is key to a successful life. Extroverts need to cultivate positive introverted habits. Introverts, of course, need to develop a few social skills, including public speaking and presentations before groups. Interestingly enough, people often find this balance by way of friends / spouses / partners who carry more of the introverted or extroverted energy in the relationship.
Take a Breath today. Especially those of you who are more on the introverted side of life. Relax. Be yourself. Live in a way that is right for you. And if you need to find a little more balance with some extroversion, push yourself to make that happen. But remember that pushing yourself a little is not the same as trying to become something you’re not.